Monday, March 30

12x12: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by J.K. Rowling

Historically, this has been my least favorite Harry Potter book. I love the first one because you kind of remember entering this world for the first time every time you read it; the third one because it becomes a lot darker and you learn so much more about Harry's parents; the fourth one because it introduces different wizarding cultures; the fifth one because you learn about the Order of the Phoenix and more wizarding history; the sixth one because SNAPE OBVIOUSLY; and the seventh one because it ties everything up in this beautiful, sad, cathartic package. The second one has always left me wanting... until this time. I love re-reading books over and over again because I always discover something new, and this time was no different. I found tidbits in here that made me fall in love with The Chamber of Secrets, basically for the first time!

What I Loved:

  • If you don't love the scene where Ron and his brothers rescue Harry from the Dursley's house, you have no soul. It fills me with happiness every time!
  • Dumbledore knowing EXACTLY who had opened the Chamber of Secrets, and me finally understanding why and how.
  • Harry feeling attached and drawn to Tom Riddle's diary, like he was with an old friend... Well dude, it kind of was an old friend...
  • Realizing Snape was the first person in the series to use "Expelliarmus," meaning Harry learned his favorite disarming spell from Snape. *heart eyes*
  • As I said for my "review" of The Sorcerer's Stone, reading the Harry Potter books makes me feel like I'm going home. It's a familiar place where, no matter where I am in real life, I can feel safe and child-like and I don't have to pretend to be someone that I'm not - tougher, stronger, cooler, etc. I started reading these books when I was 11, so I feel like I can go back and just be my childhood self without fear of being too vulnerable for the real world. That feeling is priceless.

What I Wasn't Crazy About:
  • It's definitely the shortest book of the series, and I think that maybe adds to why it's historically not been my favorite. There's not a lot that goes down - mostly it's everyone being super scared of Harry and the monster, with a few embarrassing Lockhart moments thrown in and a bit about Hagrid.
  • Also, I have a fear of spiders, so I'm not a huge fan of how present spiders are in the book. But that's not J.K. Rowling's problem.

Would I Recommend This Book?
  • NATURALLY. After re-reading it again, this book probably has the most connection to the 6th and 7th books than any other book in the series. There's so much that ties Harry in to being a horcrux, and it's hard to spot it unless you're really looking!
"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." *HEART EYES*

Which is your favorite Harry Potter book? Your least favorite?

Wednesday, March 25

12x12: Gideon's Trumpet

Gideon's Trumpet
by Anthony Lewis

This was definitely not a book I planned on reading this year - in fact, I hadn't even heard of it (cringe)! It turns out, I needed to read this novel for my Trial Advocacy class, so I decided to make it part of my project. Two birds, one stone, right? This book is a classic, especially for lawyers, because it's all about how this one man changed the law by insisting he had a right to a lawyer.

What I Loved:

  • I haven't taken Constitutional Law for a year, so it was nice to have a refresher on how the federal system works! It's pretty complex (law school is hard, who knew?), and while it's over even my head sometimes, I think this book gives a really good overview of how the system works. If you're not in law school or a lawyer, I think this book would be great to introduce you.
  • It was really inspirational - it's a true story about a man who was imprisoned in Florida, who wasn't given a lawyer at his trial even after he requested one. I think we take it for granted that every criminal defendant is entitled to a lawyer, but that wasn't the case until, literally, this case. He insisted he was entitled to one even though that's not what the law said, and the Supreme Court decided to take his case... and (spoiler!) he wins! His story is laid out in the book, and it's so inspirational!
  • It really emphasizes how important advocacy is for a lawyer. The Supreme Court may have been ready to change the law, but the lawyers on both sides of this case worked so hard! The book includes excerpts from both of their briefs, and they're both SO persuasive! I mean, I came in agreeing that criminal defendants were entitled to a lawyer, but reading the state's brief was a big shock, because he convinced me! That alone is so impressive.
  • The best part of the book by far is the actual oral argument. It's the easiest part to read, and after reading 200 pages of build-up, I was so ready to just find out what happened and how!

What I Wasn't Crazy About:
  • To be honest, I don't know how any non-lawyer reads this book. It's not easy to read. The style is a little pretentious and complex, and certain parts of the book (like the history of Con Law) were sooo hard to get through. I kept thinking, "I already took Con Law and this is difficult for me to read." It kind of felt like reading my Con Law case book over again, and not in a good way.
  • I probably wouldn't have finished this book if it wasn't required for class.

Would I Recommend This Book?
  • It depends. Although I really liked parts of this book, I definitely wouldn't call it a "fun" read. If you're interested in Constitutional Law or like the more philisophical parts of law, you may really like this. I'm more interested in people and how Con Law affects people than how Supreme Court judges feel, so most of this book was really hard for me to get through - and I was already used to the material because of law school.

Have you ever read this book? Have you seen the movie version?

Tuesday, March 24

5 Things -Not- to Do in Law School

#5: Insult How Other People Dress
Trust me on this one - nothing good can come out of insulting how your fellow classmates show up to class. People wear a lot of different things - some people wear suits (if they have an interview or something important that day), some people wear sweatpants (we all have those days), some people wear jeans and a nice shirt, etc. There is no rule about what you should or should not wear to class, and making comments about how you respect your classmates less because they don't wear what you wear is a great way to lose friends. This goes for if you think people dress up too much or too little - in the end, it's not your business and it shouldn't affect how you learn - so get off your high horse, and if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

#4: Get a Reputation for Being Selfish
Law school's a competitive place, but studying often happens in groups. Sometimes people take advantage of the group atmosphere by getting the benefits of their classmates' knowledge without giving their own knowledge. Yes, classes are curved. It tends to promote an atmosphere of, "I don't care how you do as long as I do better," but if you get the reputation of being that person who doesn't share notes or give as much as you get, beware! Law students talk, and if you're acting cutthroat and selfish, people will stop sharing with you.

Honestly, studying in groups (or at least with one other person) can be really beneficial. As they say, two minds are better than one. You may not understand the material, but another person might. Plus, studies show that teaching another person makes you understand the material better, so it's actually really beneficial to help your classmates. If you're so focused on yourself that you can't or won't help other people, you're really only hurting yourself.

#3: Party More Than You Study (and Vice Versa)
Law school is a balancing act, which means you need to find that sweet spot between fun and work. If you spend all your free time partying instead of studying, you're going to fall behind in your reading and homework (big no-no) and won't do well in your classes. Yes, law school can't be all work, but don't forget that you're here to get a law degree. You can't get that if you're not learning the law.

On the flip side, if you over-study and don't take time to relax and have breaks, you're going to wear yourself out. I talked to people in my class who spent all their free time studying, but actually did worse in those classes. They freaked themselves out, overloaded themselves, and kind of made themselves hate those subjects because they never got a break. Yes, you're in law school to learn the law, but it's already a stressful and difficult process - so give yourself a break and allow yourself to have a little fun while you're here!

#2: Only Talking About Law School
The biggest mistake 1Ls make (and trust me, we all do it) is talking about law school with our law school friends. You'll be at a get-together with a bunch of your girlfriends, the wine is flowing... and all you guys can talk about is law school. Bleh! TAKE. A. BREAK. When you're doing something to relax, you need to separate it from school. You're already eating, breathing, and drinking law school - don't let it invade your relaxation too! It's really hard not to talk about it, because law school is something you all have in common, and it takes up 90% of your time, but make the effort to talk about other things. Trust me, you'll thank me after. You deserve a life outside of school.

#1: Eat Your Feelings (Or Don't Eat at All)
When I got to law school, some 3L looked at me in the library and told me I was going to gain 20 lbs while I was here. Nice, right? Well, it happens to a lot of people. People deal with stress in different ways. Personally, I stop eating when I'm stressed, so I actually lost 10 lbs my 1L year. This year, I've worked harder on keep track of how much I'm eating, and I've added exercise in. Sometimes people deal with stress by eating their feelings, so they do gain weight. Just be careful - know yourself, know how you deal with stress, and make sure you're dealing with it in a healthy and productive way!

What would you add to this list? How do you deal with dress?

Wednesday, March 11

Law School & Insecurity

One of the more difficult parts of being in law school is the insecurity that comes with the territory from time to time.

I mean, let's be honest - not a lot of people get into law school in the first place if they're not smart. In fact, typically law school admissions are hard enough that only really smart people get in. And my natural inclination is to go, "I must have slipped through the cracks."

Not that I don't think I'm smart, but I've always gotten slightly-above average grades. Nothing spectacular. My LSAT score wasn't anything to write home about, and I had a spelling mistake in my law school admissions essay, which, naturally, I only found about a month after I sent everything in. I am, by all accounts, a fine student... but law school makes it easy for us to judge ourselves harshly compared to the people around us.

In a way, I was lucky. I grew up with smart friends and went to college with smart friends. I never got the best grades out of the group, and I didn't have any pretensions about being "better" than anyone else. Coming to law school, I didn't expect to be the smartest person in my class. Honestly, I was just excited to be here and be one step closer to making a difference. 

I go to a school where we aren't ranked, but I still catch myself comparing myself to other people from time to time. Sometimes I've felt stupid, or less-than, or wondered why I was here. Sometimes, even now, I wonder if I slipped through the cracks. There have been many times in law school where I wondered if I was smart enough, or tough enough, or even just enough.

Thankfully, I learned early on in law school that comparing myself to my classmates was not helpful... and that so much of how you feel depends on your attitude.

I choose to be inspired by the smart, capable, fun people around me. I choose not to be jealous or envious of other people's talents. I choose to be glad for my friends who get better grades.

The fact is, as great as your classmates may be, you got into law school too. You're here because, for some reason, you wanted to be here, and a lot of people believed you would succeed - that you were a good investment.

I had a mock interview a few weeks ago where one of the interviewers asked me, "Well, your GPA is average. What sets you apart? What makes you special?" That, my friends, is the question, isn't it? My GPA is me compared to my classmates. What else do I, specially, have to offer?

As it turns out, I have a lot to offer. I have a passion for helping people and for seeking justice. I'm emotionally attune to other people, and I can usually tell how other people are feeling without them saying a word. I love to write, and I'm pretty good at it. I love to learn, and I am constantly trying to improve myself. I'm determined and stubborn, but also sweet and genuine. I care deeply about making this world a better place.

It's easy to compare yourself to other people in law school, but you are unique. You have a skill set and personality that no one else has, and you can improve your skills that still need work. You bring something to the table that your classmates do not. You are not a failure because someone is better than you in an area.  I deserve to be here, and so do you. 

Instead of comparing yourself to your classmates, try to focus on your own work and skills and knowledge. Do your best with what you have. Give your best efforts - not to do better than the person next to you, but to learn the most you can while you're here. Learn how to be the best lawyer you can be... and part of that is knowing when to say, "I don't know," instead of pretending you do.

If anything, look at your classmates and peers for inspiration. They might be doing the same for you.

Monday, March 9

12x12: Watership Down

Watership Down
by Richard Adams

I don't remember when I first read this book, but I would have been in middle school or high school. I don't even know where or how I found this book... I just know that I read it, fell completely in love, and never looked back. This book was one of the reasons I insisted on reading "old" books this year - because I couldn't go another year without reading it. It's too hard for me to miss the characters and the adventures they go on. When I read a book that I deeply love (like this one), it feels like I've been holding my breath without realizing it, then suddenly I sigh and take in a new breath. Certain stories just do that to me, and Watership Down is one of them.

What I Loved:
  • Oh gosh, where do I start? Well, I've had a fantasy since I was a child of just leaving and setting off on an adventure with no foreseeable destination. The plot of Watership Down is really similar to that - these rabbits set off to escape danger and find a new home, and only one of them really has an idea where they're going. It's an adventure in every sense of the word! It makes me feel like I'm traveling with them across every page!
  • The characters are all rabbits who act and think and communicate like rabbits, but they're anthropomorphized just enough to have them think in English. It's so well thought-out that it feels weirdly natural for these rabbits to be speaking. The author did a TON of research on rabbits before writing the book, so besides the talking, they really do act like rabbits. I learned so much about rabbits just by reading this book!
  • The characters aren't subtle, but they are lovable, relatable, and vivid! They mature as the story goes on - as they learn more about each other, their strengths and weaknesses, who to trust, and what they need as individuals. Each rabbit plays a part in making their warren better, and I think that has always really spoken to me. The main characters are all relatable in different ways, which actually says a lot because they're rabbits, haha.
  • It shows the marriage, not just the wedding. You know in romantic dramas or comedies where the whole movie is the relationship, and then they're getting married or they get together finally, and then the movie's over? This book isn't like that. They spend the first 2/3 of the book trying to get to this new place to live, and it doesn't stop there! It keeps going and confronts "real" issues past the goal, which I think is both fun and very realistic.

What I Wasn't Crazy About:
  • The rabbits have this cool culture, but part of it includes story-telling. Now, this isn't necessarily a negative. The stories are all chapter-length, and while they're nice to read once or twice, reading the stories take up SO much time and really don't add that much to the ultimate story. I usually just gloss over them and get back to the main storyline.
  • This is part of its charm, but it was written in the 70's and it shows. The author is clearly part of a war generation, which I really hadn't noticed until I re-read one of the mini-stories again this time around. It was about this rabbit war, and once the hero returns (in a time warp), the young rabbits are all complaining about the older, ex-military rabbits. They're saying things about how war is so useless and how the old rabbits dwell too much on the past, and as the reader, you can tell that the author is clearly writing about the hippie generation and thinks these "young rabbits" are stupid and disrespectful of the sacrifice they were given.
  • As a feminist and woman, I have to point this out, even though I take it with a grain of salt: the female rabbits, with a few exceptions, are viewed mostly as tools for digging warrens and breeding. It's never romantic, and only near the end is it slightly respectful. Most of the female rabbits don't have a personality or really any semblance of respect or use besides those uses already mentioned. There is one female rabbit near the end that actually has a personality, but that's about it. It's a very male-rabbit-driven book.

Would I Recommend This Book?
  • Absolutely! As I stated, it's one of my favorite books of all time. It's such a creative idea for a book and it sucks you in. To be fair, the first chapter is a little slow, but it picks up really fast once you get used to the "world" they're living in. If you like animals (or ever pretended to be an animal when you played games with your friends growing up, *coughcough*) and you like to read, this is a great, classic book!

Wednesday, March 4

Life Lately {vol. 40}

Last Friday, I spent the morning cleaning and taking care of my kitty babies, then headed to the Manchester airport to fly to Hilton Head for winter break!

Gideon's Trumpet was my go-to read for the trip (and now checked off my 12x12 list)!

I don't have the words to say how good it felt to be home and with my family again.

My dad and I teamed up on dinners all week, and this caprese chicken recipe was AMAZING!

Dad and I went to an Asian buffet one day for lunch!

No one here is surprised that a cat found me (or I found a cat???) on vacation.

Dad and I celebrating National Margarita Day! :)

Mom, Dad and I travelled four hours northwest to meet my little brother, Chase, at his college!

I missed Chase desperately!!

We all went out for lunch the minute we got there, and Chase took us to this really cool burger place! I don't eat red meat often, but this burger was FANTASTIC!

Mom and Dad's neighbor brought over some flowers!

I made caprese for Mom and Dad one night!

I'm actually not a huge fan of breakfast parfaits, but coconut Greek yogurt with berries and granola was such a great way to start the day!

Kichon was such a sweetheart all week, but she always is. :)

"You know nothing, Jon Snow."

I started Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets near the end of my trip!

On Friday, Mom, Dad and I headed to Savannah for the afternoon!

We found this little chocolate shop where I tried a chocolate salted margarita??? It was beyond delicious!

We mostly just walked around the city, but we stopped by the Paris Market!

How much do I need this googley-eyed bobcat??

For dinner that night, the three of us headed to my favorite Italian restaurant on the island!

The next morning (the day I flew back to NH), we met my grandparents for breakfast!

Saturday night, I got stuck in Philly due to my crew not showing up... I was so upset, but the airline got me a hotel for the night and I ordered a pizza, so it could have been worse.

This was the line for security the next morning. I've never seen anything like it!

I love this little bit from Harry Potter so much!

Needless to say, the cats were very glad to have me back! James has barely left my side!

I'm also really happy to be back at the gym! I'd missed weight lifting while I was on vacation!

... But I'll be honest, it's been hard to get up so early again. I couldn't make it this morning because I was SO tired!

These are going to be a busy next few weeks in Concord! I mean, I have regular schoolwork to keep up with, J's coming up for a week in 10 days, and then in April, my mom and Grandma are coming up for a long weekend! I don't know how I'm going to get everything done, but I suppose I'll find time. :) I'm really lucky that I get to see so much of my loved ones this year!

I hope everyone's break was (or will be) good! Heaven knows I needed the sleep! :)

Monday, March 2

New Years Goals Update

Hey friends! I thought today would be a great time to look back on my New Years goals and check to see how I'm doing on them. And maybe it seems stupid, but I usually forget all about my New Years goals until the end of the year. I don't want to do that this year, so let's check out where I'm at!

  • Start a new 12x12 project
My goal for this year was to read another 12 books - this time, books I'd already read as well as books I hadn't read before. This year's project is going SO well! I'm currently about to start my 7th book of the year, and it's only March! Holy moly, right?

Watership Down (Coming Soon)
Gideon's Trumpet (Coming Soon)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Coming Soon)
The Princess Bride (About to Read)

  • Notice when I'm gossiping
I've done really well on this for the beginning of the year: I've noticed when I'm doing it, and I think it helps me avoid gossiping at least half the time. I haven't done much gossiping in general (which I'm thrilled by), but I think it's going to be harder since I'm back at school again.

  • 30x30 yoga project
I haven't done this project yet! I'm trying to get in shape "again" after a week of stress and then immediately a week of relaxation. I just got back into the gym this morning, so I think this project will have to wait a few months. I'm really excited for it!

  • Give away 200 things
So far this year, I've given away 76 things and counting!

  • Have a law school book club meeting
Still no progress on this front. Working on it!

  • Make blogging calendars each month
Success! I've made blogging calendars for each month so far. Here's to doing this the rest of the year!

  • Find and cook two or more recipes each month
I've done this so far this year! I keep finding new recipes on Pinterest and I've actually made some (shocker)! I love Pinterest, but actually making the recipes or doing the crafts is not my strong suit. I've been working hard on trying new things, and I've really enjoyed my new recipes! I made this kick ass sriracha-honey chicken a few weeks ago, and I can't wait to make it again. It was THAT good!

  • Make my bed every day
This one's touch and go. I've done a pretty good job so far, which has surprised me. There are always a few days where I don't quite get to it, but most of the time I manage to do it. No one except J and my family truly knows what a miracle this is!

  • Physical fitness goals
I've worked out 5 times a week at the gym every time I could since I got back to Concord with two exceptions: One week where I did 4 times because I was sick, and the week before break because I was so overwhelmed with homework! I'm really proud of myself for working so hard, but more than that, I've really felt a big change in my body and my stress levels! I'm excited to be getting back to the gym this week. :)

  • Reward myself when I reach my goals!
Sooo about this... Haven't done this at all. I need to brainstorm some cute/easy/fun rewards!

Since it's only March, I'm really happy with where I'm at with my goals! :) I still need to work on getting rid of more stuff, making my bed, and rewarding myself when I reach my goals! How do you think I should reward myself?